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Take a Tour

Take a memorable journey through the streets of a turn-of-the-century neighborhood, filled with historical ambiance and architecture.


to Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward – the place to live, work, play, dine and shop. Just three blocks south of downtown, the neighborhood is now known as "Milwaukee's Arts and Fashion District" and offers the city's most dynamic array of restaurants, spas, theaters, galleries and unique shopping, all in a historic warehouse setting. 

The Milwaukee River, the Lake Michigan harbor, and Downtown border the Third Ward. This accessibility to North Water, North Broadway and North Milwaukee Streets provided an ideal location for thriving wholesalers and manufacturers.

In 1892, tragedy struck the Third Ward as a fire broke out which destroyed 440 buildings and left 1,900 people, mostly Irish immigrant laborers and their families, homeless.

Soon after the fire, prominent local architects stepped in to design many of the new commercial structures. Construction continued over the next 36 years and because of this relatively short span of development, the buildings exhibit an interesting continuity that unifies the neighborhood.

In 1984, the National Register of Historic Places accepted 70 buildings spanning approximately 10 square blocks as "The Historic Third Ward District." Along with the designation came economic development and promotional efforts by the Historic Third Ward Association, attracting attention to the area. Local government, private investors and historic preservationists have all helped to bring about the ongoing progress of the district.

Most old buildings in the Historic Third Ward are massive brick structures built up to the sidewalk. The result is a uniform setback as well as a dense urban structure. The buildings are quite visually pleasing with a preponderance of neoclassical styles with window groupings between pilasters, capped by arcades and arcuated cornices. The diverse ornamentation ranges from Victorian Gothic to Sullivanesque to Art Deco in materials such as terra cotta, metal and stone. Enjoy your walk through the Historic Third Ward - a vibrant neighborhood where past and present meet.

Download a pdf of the Historic Walking Tour -

highlighting the history of notable neighborhood buildings and locations.

View a photo gallery of the Historic Third Ward.

To uncover unique perspectives of the neighborhood, contact

Historic Milwaukee Walking Tours

Milwaukee Food Tours

Milwaukee Ghost Tours

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525 East Chicago Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202 414.273.1173
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